Holocaust Fun?
Published on February 7, 2006 By Larry Kuperman In Current Events
Well, the cartoon war just won't go away.

"An Iranian newspaper says it is going to hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust to test whether the West will apply the same principles of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide against Jews as it did to the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed."

It is not as if anyone should be surprised. At the time of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, there were close to 100,000 Jews living in that country. Today, less than 30,000 remain. The remainder fled to Israel or the United States. Whether they remain their by choice or because they can't leave is not clear to me. (I can't imagine what life is like for those that remain in a country whose President and media claim that the Holocaust never happened.)

But there is nothing surprising about this (disgusting) move by Iran. It is a cartoon war. You do this, we'll do that.

Nor is there anything surprising about Iran targeting the Jews. None of the papers involved in publishing the original cartoons are owned by Jews. In fact, France Noir is owned by an Egyptian Christian. But Iran doesn't really want to antogonize Europe lest Iranian oil be boycotted. So they blame the Jews. Once again, history repeats itself.

Sooner or later, someone will ask if I regret the post where I referred to the anti-Arab cartoons as Hate speech and my answer is "No." That was hate and this is hate too. There is no satire here, no lampooning based on current events. The Europeans increasingly resent their Arab populations and the Iranians (and the Syrians and the...well you get the idea) hate the Jews. As I pointed out several times, European communities passed laws making public Holocaust denial a crime, but chose to have a very narrow definition of who was protected and under what circumstances. That selective definition opened up a kettle of fish and we are now treated to the reek that comes from that.

Iran and Syria and other Arab countries have always posted anti-Semitic cartoons. Nothing new here. The only new factor is that now they can claim some justification.

I always knew that the Arabs hated me and all my people. I also have a lot of skepticism that Europe cared one wit, one iota, for my well-being. "The enemy of my enemy" cares nothing for me. The anti-Arab cartooons were not pro-Israel or pro-Jewish. Some in the European press may even carry them, under the guise of "equal time."

Does anyone remember when cartoons were funny?

Comments (Page 1)
on Feb 07, 2006
I think you have to step back kupe, and really ask yourselves after looking at the cartoons again, "Do these artists hate Muslims?" Go back and look at the ones that insult the newspaper itself. Do you really, down deep think that any of those cartoons were created in the spirit of hate?

Believe it or not you can associate bombs with Islam without hating it. Muslims do it all the time. The one about "we're running out of virgins" was pretty funny, actually. Anyway, this isn't about hate or offense, this is about *any* representation of Mohammed. That is a religious belief that shouldn't be imposed on non-Muslims.

I think the laws you refer to in Europe are a great wrong, and one that no free society should emulate. Either you will make it special status for particular horrors, or pass a law or string of laws making it illegal to question the validity of any of many horrors. Then, what if one of them DIDN'T really happen? What happens when we can't question the 100,000 Iraqi children dying per day mythos?

Freedom isn't just about the freedom to be what you and I consider tasteful. It isn't about freedom from insult. In order to make it so, you have to have very narrow definitions about what is insult, and what is tasteful, and you have to leave out a lot of people to accomplish that.
on Feb 07, 2006
Course, according to Iran the holocaust never happened, so I guess the best cartoon lampooning it would be a blank panel. ;~D
on Feb 07, 2006
I mean, is it illegal to state that there WAS a holocaust in Iran or Saudi Arabia? If not, do we really want to be better at squelching dissent, even moronic dissent, than they are?

As someone who majored in History, I have very negatives feelings about making it illegal to question the official account of anything. I believe the holocaust happened, but how easily could such laws be used to wield political power?
on Feb 07, 2006
To me, if a cartoon can inspire a person to murder, chances are, they were murderers long before the cartoon came out. It isn't a justification, it's just a pathetic excuse.
on Feb 07, 2006
I think that we need to agree to disagree on this. The original printing of the cartoons was freedom of expression, the subsequent reprinting was intended as inflammatory. I don't really care about what the artists were thinking, I know what the papers were thinking based on what they have said.

I also think that we need to distinguish between an intellectual discussion and a hateful cartoon. One begins a dialogue, the other has no such purpose.

"I think the laws you refer to in Europe are a great wrong." I know, you have said that before. But the laws are there. And the current laws protect one minority (one to which I belong) and not others. "Either you will make it special status for particular horrors" is EXACTLY what Europe has done.

Every society already has laws about what can be said and what can't and when it can be said. Such laws have been deemed necessary for much of our history. We have laws against libel, against slander, against pornography, etc. The reason that the European media chose to reprint these pictures is bacause the Arab minority is currently un-popular. Cartoons that denigrated Blacks, even if they were "funny," would not be tolerated. This is about the principle of equality under the law. If you have laws protecting one group, and there are such laws, you shouldn't be able to pick on another group because you don't like them.

No one has asked why I, as a Jew and a pro-Israeli Jew at that, would find this whole thing troubling. It is because I know with the certainty of history, who will be next.
on Feb 07, 2006
" I think that we need to agree to disagree on this. "


"Cartoons that denigrated Blacks, even if they were "funny," would not be tolerated. This is about the principle of equality under the law."


I guess we will. The problem is the definition of "hate" and "denigrate" and such. I understood from the get-go why you would have problems with this, and probably on several levels. Is it such a stretch, though, to see how such laws could be twisted to PROTECT hateful ideologies from scorn?

I simply can't fear hate as much as the loss of my rights, because the rights always go before the hateful start stoking the ovens. Eventually, once you have created precident for people to jail you for "disrespect"... well, it's pretty easy to start loading the arrested onto trains.

The problem isn't the hate, it is losing the freedoms we can use to educate ourselves and protect ourselves from hate. Legislate enough of that freedom away and protecting yourself and educating people about hate becomes a crime. Today you can't disrespect particular people's religion, tomorrow you can't disrespect their politics, the day after you can't disrespect the government, and next week you can't question the government's hatred for particular people's religion.

Once we have such laws here, I guess we'll need a ministry of comedy to decide what is funny and what is denigrating. I'm sure the folks in such positions will have one hell of a sense of humor.
on Feb 08, 2006
I think that the cartoon was racist and sereotypical. The freedom of speech should be directed in a positive light and not in a negative one. As a cartoonist, my material and sketches are on a humous side and I am very careful not to offend my subjects.
There are a lot of considerations to be accounted for, and tact should be one of them. I think that any cartoons depicting Religion, Race or creed is crossing the line, and that " The freedom of Speech' is sometimes used as a"safety' precaution so that the material is
uncensored, and is published in this regard. The Freedom of Speech is a great priviledge, but when it is abused, or used for harmful or
malicious context , it becomes a stomping ground for bigots to display their ignorance.
on Feb 08, 2006

Course, according to Iran the holocaust never happened, so I guess the best cartoon lampooning it would be a blank panel.


They know that some European countries forbid lies about World War II to be published. They are waiting for a chance to point fingers. They know that their clientele can't differentiate between violent protesting and the rule of the law.
on Feb 08, 2006
"Once we have such laws here, I guess we'll need a ministry of comedy to decide what is funny and what is denigrating. I'm sure the folks in such positions will have one hell of a sense of humor."

You DO realize that such a ministry has been in place for years? We just bleeped (actually silenced) Mick Jagger during the Super Bowl? See Link We refuse to air GoDaddy's racy commercials.
Link

Ask Howard Stern if he thinks that there is censorship in America. Or summon the ghost of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.

C'mon, where was the Right's impassioned defense in these cases? We are picking and choosing our battles here. "Refusing to show Brokeback Mountain = Good. Not showing anti-Moslem cartoons = Bad, 1st step toward the next Holocaust."

We have censorship, always have had it. But this isn't about American standards. Europe has stricter standards than we do. You can't buy Mein Kampf in Germany, a more serious issue than cartoons. Headline from December 14th, 2005: "FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR'S NEW DIRECTOR TO WIESENTHAL CENTER:“STEPS WILL BE TAKEN TO BAR ANTISEMITISM FROM 2006 FAIR” See Link

But we don't like Arabs this week, so we don't offer them the same protections. This is about selective enforcement of already existing laws.





on Feb 08, 2006
Once again I see that people aren't able (or is it just not willing) to distinguish private enterprise from public property.

Back in the early days of radio, it was decided that the electromagnetic spectrum should be public property instead of private property. That way no company could lay claim to it and start charging others to use it.

When any property becomes public, the government sets up standards and laws to ensure open access.

Newspapers, magazines, cable TV, Satelite TV, books... etc, are private property that can be bought, sold, leased and rented at the will of the owner.

Yes, anyone has the right to use private media to be as offensive, racist and otherwise scummy as they choose to be. However, if they want to do it in a medium they don't own (the airwaves) they have to comply with the standards and laws of the FCC.

Unless we want to see a day when one radio or tv station can scramble or block the signal of rival stations, or people like either Howard Stern or Fred Phelps get to unilaterally decide what should and shouldn't be broadcast over the public airwaves, I'd suggest we quit trying to undermine them with our own short sighted rhetoric.
on Feb 08, 2006
Leuki:
They know that some European countries forbid lies about World War II to be published. They are waiting for a chance to point fingers. They know that their clientele can't differentiate between violent protesting and the rule of the law.


Exactly. They think that any show of offense will be the same as their murderous childishness.

Moral equivalence on a rampage.

Cmorton:
I think that the cartoon was racist and sereotypical. The freedom of speech should be directed in a positive light and not in a negative one.


So freedom doesn't go both ways? The only people who deserve freedom are those you agree with?
on Feb 08, 2006
While I will not debate whether the cartoons are hate or not, the simple fact that at least here, the freedom of speech also allows the freedom of hate speech is part of the package.  There is no way that Piss Christ or Poop Madonna was any less offensive or hateful that these cartoons.  And no one got blown up or killed about it.  What you refer to as the bleep brigade only covers the shared airwaves.  It does not cover cable or Satellite.
on Feb 08, 2006
Kupe: You do a good job of providing good examples of how even small amounts of this kind of censorship can be destructive. I agree that we do have problems with it here in America, and I hope to God we don't follow the path of European nations who have become so anal about it that one cannot even associate a bomb with Mohammed, he who first came up with the whole 'killing infidels' thing, without being called hateful.

I have a serious issue with the idea that these cartoons weren't timely or valid. Some were statements *against* what they newspaper was doing. Others were representations of what terrorists, themselves, say. When the day comes that it is illegal to tell the truth because it might offend someone, we're not much better off than people who live in places like Iran. We'll just have a different flavor of tyrrany.

As for Mein Kampf not being legal to buy, it proves the point that book burning just begets book burning. Having NOT learned from History, they will make it impossible for other people to.
on Feb 08, 2006
P.S. I've said my peace about 20 times over, so I'll stop irritating you, Kupe. I hope there is no hard feelings.
on Feb 08, 2006
No irritation, BakerStreet. Free debate is healthy...unless you create a racist cartoon about me!

Ted, no actually, you don't get it. There are laws governing private property, always have been, always will be. You go outside your house and put up a sign on your lawn that says "The President must die!!!!" and see what happens. That speech isn't protected. The classic example is that you can't shout fire in a movie theater. Ever hear of incitement to riot?

Europe has more stringent standards. I don't mean to be mean here, but I have explanied this and provided examples lots of times. The issue is selective enforcement of the laws.

It is really odd seeing conservatives taking the tack that liberals often take. "The world shouldn't be the way that it is" they sigh. Great, wonderful theories you guys have, but they aren't pertinent to the issue.

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